Nine out 10 people have at least one risk factor for heart disease, which is our second leading cause of death. But the power of prevention is in your hands, says Registered Dietitian Daphna Steinberg.
Lifestyle is the cornerstone for prevention and for treatment as well as adjunct medication. She offers her five top tips for heart health, starting with food.
#5. Maintain a healthy diet. Try and keep a healthy diet that is low in fat, low in sodium or salt and high in fibre. So, things like lots of fruits and vegetables to get your fibre, fresh foods to avoid the salt, try to stay away from fried foods and processed foods as much as possible.
Steinberg says it’s critical to read your nutrition facts table and ingredients list closely. Here are a few things to look for:
A low sodium food contains 200 milligrams or less per serving.
Limit your total daily sodium intake to between 1200 to 1500 milligrams or half a teaspoon.
For trans fats, the label should read zero, but beware, some foods may contain trans-fat in the ingredient list without showing up on the label. So, avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated oils and shortenings.
Limit your total fat to no more than 30% of your total calories for the whole day, which includes healthy fats like omega-3s.
For fibre, you need 21 grams per day. It is always recommended to reach for fruits and veggies in their sold form as well as whole grain cereals and breads.
#4. Avoid smoking absolutely. If you don’t smock, you don’t want to start and if you do smoke, you want to quit. Heavy smoking is directly related to about two in six deaths that occur from heart-related complications or heart disease . Continuous smoking can lead to damaged blood vessels, decrease the diameter of the blood vessels therefore resulting in reduced amount of oxygen supplied to the heart and the body as a whole. Smoking can also result in increased blood pressure.
#3. Keep an active lifestyle. For some people, that means going to the gym on a regular basis. For other people, that doesn’t really work for them. That means finding something that does. At least forty minutes of slightly moderate activity that will keep your heart performing at an elevated level for a sustained period of time is recommended every day and that goes hand in hand with the next tip.
#2. Maintaining a healthy body weight. Steinberg says, portion control is key. We do know that a healthy body weight is important for reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke, and it helps to keep your blood pressure under control. When it comes to waist circumference, men should not exceed 102 centimeters, and women should not exceed 88 centimeters.
#1. Reduce your stress. External stress can put internal stress like oxidative stress as well. Your body does react to things your brain sends out different hormones when you are stressed. Approaches that have been shown to work include; meditation, exercise and healthy eating.
And laughter doesn’t hurt either.